In most cases, the average home appraisal should cost between $400 and $500. As a required part of any real estate transaction, appraisals make up a significant chunk of the closing costs in a mortgage. Most of the time, the borrower is responsible for covering the cost of the appraisal.
- How Much Does a Home Appraisal Cost?
- What Factors Affect Home Appraisal Fees?
- Can I Choose My Own Appraiser for a Mortgage?
How Much Does a Home Appraisal Cost?
For a realistic look at the cost of an appraisal, we gathered mortgage estimates from several major consumer banks and compared the appraisal fees included in each set of closing costs. We also compared these appraisal fees against the other major lender and third-party charges.
Major Mortgage Closing Fees at Consumer Banks
|Lender||Appraisal Fee||Origination Fee||Escrow Fee|
|Bank of America||$495||$1,185||$675|
While higher home values sometimes lead to higher appraisal costs, we found that the appraisal fees quoted online by each major bank remained fairly consistent for each home price we tested. The fees also failed to show any changes when we adjusted for different locations, which suggests that these numbers are more like guidelines than exact numbers. There was was also limited variation among the different banks, with most charging between $400 and $500 for the appraisal fee.
The appraisal fee represents one of the largest third-party expenses in the closing costs for a mortgage. The only service charge more expensive than the appraisal was the lender's own origination fee, with the cost of escrow services ranking third. This makes sense given the importance of a proper appraisal, which ensures that lenders aren't risking more money in a loan than a property is actually worth. While buyers are often expected to cover the appraisal fee, sometimes lenders or sellers will be willing to share this cost. In a refinance, the borrower always pays for the appraisal.
What Factors Affect Home Appraisal Fees?
In a home appraisal, a professional third party estimates the value of a property so that the lender can determine how much money to provide in the mortgage loan. Most people understand that the appraised value of a home depends on many factors like location and property condition. However, the fee for an appraisal itself can also go up or down based on the characteristics of your home.
Factors that Can Raise Appraisal Costs
- Greater total square footage
- Unique property site location
- Unusual improvements or features
- Extensive damages and repairs
- Lack of similar properties nearby
If you're trying to understand why your appraisal fee is significantly higher than $500, the square footage of your property should be the first factor to consider. If a house is much larger than usual, an appraiser might charge more to measure and assess the total area. Appraisers also base the value of your home on the price of similar properties in your neighborhood. If your home is located far from any other properties or has unique characteristics that make comparative pricing more difficult, the appraisal could cost more time and money to complete.
While many people want to avoid overpaying on an appraisal, simply going with the lowest price isn't always the best practice. Appraisers who charge far below the market price could save you a few hundred dollars on your closing fees, but if they cut corners and deliver an undervalued appraisal, you could be missing out on tens of thousands in property value. Considering the appraisal fee in relation to the value of your home puts things in a more realistic perspective: the short-term savings of a cheaper appraisal isn't necessarily worth the risk of an inaccurate valuation.
Can I Choose My Own Appraiser for a Mortgage?
Federal law prohibits any party involved in a real estate transaction from directly choosing an appraiser. Whether you're a buyer or seller, you cannot order a valid appraisal from a company that you choose. Instead, lenders entrust the selection of an appraiser to a third party, who will randomly assign the job to one of its partnered appraisers in a set rotation. In this way, not even mortgage lenders have full control over the choice of appraiser for a given deal. This practice helps protect the impartiality of the final appraised value.
It's always possible to hire an appraiser for your own reference, but such privately obtained appraisals aren't legally acceptable for the purposes of obtaining a mortgage. However, lenders may accept appraisals that you obtain as part of an earlier mortgage process that doesn't result in a loan. So long as the original appraisal is less than 120 days old, you could potentially take it to a second lender and save yourself the cost of another appraisal.